Here’s a story that brought tears to my eyes (Washington Post’s “Students Build a Better Home for Wounded Solider Who Couldn’t Get Around His House.”)
Human beings have so much potential.
Happy “Feel Good” Friday!
Here’s a story that brought tears to my eyes (Washington Post’s “Students Build a Better Home for Wounded Solider Who Couldn’t Get Around His House.”)
Human beings have so much potential.
Happy “Feel Good” Friday!
That’s what I said when my daughter (age 10) came home from school last April and said “Mom, we learned Prezi today!” My struggle to stay up-to-date on technology rivals my flailing attempts to stay informed on pop music (I thought Robin Thicke was Alan Thicke making a late middle-age comeback… and yeah, I thought “t’werking” meant “using twitter like a jerk”).
Prezi is the new “Keynote” (which is the new “Powerpoint”) and it’s all the rage in tech-forward academic circles. Oh wait. You don’t know what Keynote is? It’s MAC Powerpoint. Powerpoint? It’s McKinsey crack. Still confused? Don’t worry. Two years ago, I didn’t know any of this. Welcome to the tech ride, Mama. It’s real. And it’s coming from the bottom-up.
So why the pressure?
After my daughter showed me the Prezi she’d made in school, I got to thinking. It was very modern. It was very cool. And it looked very user-friendly. I mean, if a 10 year old could figure it out!? Why not use it for Totefish? I decided to make an About Us video using Prezi. It would be more interesting than a long, promotional write-up on the website, right? Who reads those, anyway?
I spent 5 months working on it. Yeah. That’s right. I’d never used Powerpoint or Keynote (although my daughter has made at least 4 presentations of each) so my learning curve was steeper than most. But you know what drove me through it? Fear of disappointing my daughter.
Do as I say, not as I do
I am one of those women who believes men and women should have equal opportunity to do anything. Because of that, I filled our house with trucks, building blocks and rainbow-hued legos when my daughter was born. I ended every Disney story with the line, “And she lived happily ever after she got a great job, invested her money in a diversified portfolio and ended up buying her own castle on the beach.”
When my daughter turned 8, I sat her down and said “Things are going to change around here. I’m going to start a company so now, we’ll have a babysitter pick you up at the bus-stop.” Her response? ”You can’t start a company. That’s what Dad does.” FOR REAL.
Failure is not an option
In the last two years, my daughter has been privy to the stresses, struggles and realities of achieving my dream to launch Totefish. Although I always lace my talks of Totefish with warnings of ”the odds of it working are slim” and “the average entrepreneur fails 4 times before they succeed”, my daughter tells everyone that her Mom is a building a big company. She also tells them that I’m an expert on Prezi. Expert?!? Not even close! But I have spent the last 5 months showing her my baby-steps of improvement. It’s become our thing. We don’t talk fashion. We don’t talk Miley Cyrus. We talk Prezi.
I showed my daughter my finished Prezi this week. Her response?
“I love you, Mom.”
I can’t think of a better reason to Prezi than that.
This morning, my husband emailed me the link for today’s NY Times article “The Opt-Out Generation Wants Back In” and I, in turn, am including it here. It’s a follow-up article to the “Opt-Out Generation” essay published in the NY Times Magazine in 2003. Any man or woman who either 1.) has kids or 2.) is thinking of having kids NEEDS to read this article.
Because it provides one of the few open, honest discussions about the challenges of raising a family.
Whether a woman opts-in or opts-out of her career (in order to focus her full attention on child-rearing), there are sacrifices, consequences and hardships all-around in the house. Neither wife nor husband gets out unscathed.
How do I know this?
My husband and I are for whom this story was written. In 2001, I opted out of my ambitious career to raise our children full-time. I thrived setting my children on the “right path in life” while experiencing first-hand the memories of my children’s infancy and early development years. I also struggled with my identity and self-worth and probably sustained a low-level dose of depression over those years. Oh yeah. I had it all — the good & the bad of opting out. And then, two years ago, I opted back in to my career. I was embarrassed by my outdated resume, intimated by the new technologies, excited about the intellectual challenges and empowered by the daily challenges of starting my own business. I’ve gained 10 pounds, I vacillate between guilt and resentment on a daily basis and I never socialize with my friends. Again, I have it all — the good & the bad of opting in.
Why do I love this new NY Times article?
Because it speaks the truth. There is NO easy answer for any couple raising children.
My husband and I spend far too much time talking about how much work we have and how little time we relax. We’ve had those conversations about who does more work, who’s more tired and whose responsibility it is to call the cable company and request a new remote control. We’ve had the traditional 1950s household and we now have the chaotic household of two working parents. Which is better? For us, I think it’s the “now” version. Is it more work for my husband? Absolutely, yes. Will we make it? I hope so. He’s my best friend, my closest confidante and my most qualified mentor. But that means I have to understand his side of the equation, too. My opt-out and opt-in has as much of an impact — both good & bad — on him as on me. Time will tell if it was the right move for him.
In the meantime…
My husband, not prone to typical romantic gestures, included a virtual love note in this morning’s email. Here’s an excerpt:
I know the past six months have been hard w/r/t Totefish, but you are doing an awesome job… I never considered how it might make someone feel who left but wanted to get back in the game. This article made me think how tough it may have been for you.
Raising kids is hard and how a couple structures their home environment is a very personal decision. But we can agree that both husbands and wives need to communicate. Understanding and empathy go a very long way. Virtual love notes go even farther.
As a working mom, preparing & serving healthy meals for the family is the most challenging of tasks. Home-cooked dinners were the first casualty of my return to work. They show no sign of resuscitation.
Here’s the problem, though. Even my fat-pants are starting to feel tight. I think my diet of pasta, pizza and frozen chicken nuggets is to blame. Sure, they’re nitrate-free but really, I know it’s not healthy for me or the kids. But how to get those good, made-from-scratch, healthy meals back into our lives?!
Fear not. I have a plan.
Redundancy. On a 14-day schedule.
Welcome to the launch of my “Two Week Recipe Rotation Plan.” I’ve mapped out two work weeks’ worth of recipes (I’m no fool… we’re eating pizza and sushi on weekends). They are easily prepared in advance (which I’m going to do on Sunday nights) AND can be thrown together the day of in 20 minutes. I’ve got one shopping list per week (so I don’t have to think about what to buy as I walk the aisles & I’m eradicating the quick grocery run mid-week). The meals are varied enough to keep everyone’s attention, they’re pre-vetted for healthiness, they’re kid-friendly & adult-worthy, and did I mention they are easy? I’m going to make the same rotation every two weeks until it drives my family mad. Then, I’ll find a new set of recipes.
I’m listing them, if you are interested, in the RESOURCES: Parenting section (see the top menu).
Imagine. No More:
1.) ”Oh, it’s Sunday night and here I am in the grocery store and I don’t know, what should I buy? Another bag of tortillas and shredded cheese? We can have quesadillas one night. Oh wait. We had that last night. How about hotdogs? Hotdogs are American, right?”
2.) ”But I thought you liked my chicken stir-fry? If I served ice cream for dinner twice a week, you’d still love ice cream, no?”
3.) ”Oh shit. I thought I had a can of black beans in here. I always have beans in the pantry. Sorry kids — We’ll do burrito night tomorrow. Tonight, how about a stir fry?”
4.) ”What?! It’s already 6 pm? Not again. Let me look in the freezer.”
5.) “I’m sure there’s something I can make with frozen bagels, a bag of peas, a half-bag of tater tots and some chicken breasts dating back to December, right? They do this kind of thing on tv all the time.
6.) ”Let’s just order in some pizzas tonight. Tomato sauce has tomatoes in it. Tomatoes are vegetables. Or are they a fruit?!”
7.) ”I went to the Farmer’s Market’s on Sunday. Bu why is the lettuce slimey? And the zucchini shriveled ? Is celery supposed to bend like this? Let’s put the carrots in a bowl of ice water. You’ll see. In 2 hours, they’ll be totally firm again.”
8.) ”YAY, kids. It’s ‘Bizarro Night’ again. What’ll it be, kids — Cheerios or Rice Krispies? Who doesn’t love breakfast for dinner?”
Hear me now, believe me later. This is revolutionary. This is me, being more organized than I knew was possible. That’s enough to make a girl go giddy.
I’m getting sappy in my middle-age. Or maybe, the relentless onslaught of bad news (and mean-spirited reality shows) has finally worn me down. Yesterday, my 9-year old daughter asked, “Why does it seem like everyone wants to hurt each other?” She’d just seen the front page of the newspaper filled with headlines about an assassination, a cop killer and the systematic use of rape against women in second and third world cultures. I had to admit that some days are worse than others.
I’m ready for an inspiring story. I’m ready to cuddle with baby kittens. I’m ready for some feel good.
So, here it. The Kid President video from SoulPancake. The message? ”Make this an awesome year for people.”
That’s positive enough for me.
Have a lovely Friday.
While surfing the web & eating a bowl of leftover mashed potatoes at my lunch-break today, I came across this story. Tears welled up in my eyes (and mashed potatoes in my throat).
The world is a good place.
Check out the story for yourself: “Tennessee Homecoming King Nominees Give Crown to Another Teen.”
May it overwhelm you, too, with faith in humanity. We have such potential.
Happy “Feel-good” Friday.
I have two tips for leading a productive 2013:
1.) Don’t leave your daily Omega 3 Fish Oil pill in your pant’s pocket before running them through the washing machine;
2.) Get a doctor’s note when you see me sitting in the jury selection room ’cause they’re about to call us for a 2-week trial.
I could write a very lengthy blog post about the frustration of being called to (potentially) jury a 2-week civil trial 10 weeks before I launch my website OR I could pen a tongue-and-cheek diatribe about my husband’s fish-pill habit that required six vomit-inducing midnight washes to remove the ridiculously pungent, putrid fish-scale smell out of our clothes. But no. This is 2013. And in 2013, I’m positive, I’m “half-glass-full”, and I’m not allowed to be bitchy or snarky.
It’s going to be a very long year.
This blog post is NOT going to be about how the Beverly Hills courthouse Jury Selection Room has pictures of celebrities flanking their wall, claiming they served therefore so should you. I mean, if a celebrity can make time out of their busy movie-making, red-carpet walking, fancy trailer waiting life, than I what am I complaining about? A mid-life career change? A steep investment in my own internet company? Two kids under the age of 10? A husband traveling for work the next 3 out of 4 weeks? Washing fish oil out of pajamas, underwear and kids’ uniform pants at 2 am? Harrison and I should meet up for drinks. We’d really share a commiserating laugh over that one!
With my new 2013 self, I won’t mention that my 9-year old (precocious and very well-read) daughter said to me this morning, “Mom, I think you need to tell the judge that as it is, you’re tenuously juggling your company and us. Tell him you can’t handle two weeks on a jury. Really, Mom.” Verbatim. I couldn’t make up this stuff. It’s only 9 am.
Don’t pity me & Don’t roll your eyes knowingly. It’s 2013. It’s the year of the Snake. And for us rats born in 1972, this means I’m gonna focus on my career and stop focusing on the mundane and trivial. The Travel China Guide website says so. For those born in the Rat Zodiac, “Fortune gets better in 2013, both in career and wealth. During the first half-year, they should seize any chance to make great achievements. Their good fortune in the second half-year will lessen a lot. For females, it is better to take good care of themselves and stop being gossipy.”
I’m on it. Life could be so much worse.
Wait. One of the courthouse elevators just broke. Rumor has it it’s filled with today’s jurors. See how much worse my day could be?!
Half-glass full, baby. Half-glass full.
Hiking 3 1/2 hours up a steep mountain? Lovely.
Riding 7 minutes down on the gondola? Spear your hiking pole thru my heart and call it a mercy killing.
I’ve turned into a 40-year old acrophobe. And I blame it on my start-up.
Here’s the back-story:
This past summer, my husband and I went day-hiking up Bald Mountain in Idaho. Perfect excuse for exercise, communing with nature and accomplishing a goal. Who wouldn’t feel good after that?
We made our way up the mountain in the shade of the gondola. The free ride down was to be our reward. Three hours later, I bounded, thrilled to be sitting down on the cushioned seat, happy for the beautiful scenery in front of us.
That was until we began the descent. My stomach immediately lurched and my only vision was of the gondola slipping off its rail and careening into the rocks below.
I was afraid of heights? What the hell!?!
As a teenager, I loved rollercoasters, cliff walks and skyscraper viewing decks. I savored the take-offs of airline flights, I jumped from the high-dive platform without hesitation and I never lowered the security bar on ski lifts. But now, in the safety of Swiss-manufactured steel cage, I got light-headed, starting negotiating with God and ended up with my eyes closed, humming “Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens” until we reached the ground. I figured it was a gondola thing. No more Swiss transportation for me.
But last week, it happened again on the plane ride home our Christmas vacation. The flying scared the shit out of me! Consistent turbulence and the sight of snow-capped mountains just below the wing tip sent me into a panic attack — sweaty armpits, shallow breathing and shaking arms included. We were all going to die! I shouted to my earphoned kids “I LOVE you!” They nodded and kept watching their movie.
A few days later, while skiing, I found myself holding tightly to the chairlift bar, wondering if a gust of wind could send our chair tumbling down a ravine.
What on earth was happening to me?! I was unraveling at the seams.
I know the phobia of heights has plagued thousands, but for me, it was new. A NY Times article (“Can A Playground Be Too Safe?”) discussed growing trends of acrophobic children due to the lack of high climbing equipment at parks and gyms. Maybe I just needed practice bungee jumping and climbing ladders? My husband suggested that I just needed rest. But I blamed it on the start-up. The stress and pressure of building a company, raising two children and not letting my muffin-top of fat overcome ALL of my jeans had made me afraid to leave sea-level. Maybe I couldn’t handle it all?
No way! I thrive on multi-tasking.
So I started researching late-in-life phobias and strategies on how to overcome them (without a cockatil of heavy medication and vodka). Turns out, the fear of heights is often most caused by a simple fear of dying; a greater realization of one’s mortality. For some reason, I’m more afraid now of dying than ever before. Hmmm.
Could it be that now, with a loving family and a start-up launching in April, that I am more in-love with life than ever before? Could it be that the “pressure” to juggle my family and ambition is, in fact, engaging me more in life? That I want to live more than ever?
Well, well, well.
That’s a spin on stress and aging, isn’t it? Life is simply getting more interesting and I, more anxious to live it.
I’ll take it. Here’s to a promising 2013… and lots of fear of dying.
I’ve seen my future. I’m a senile old woman who gets kicked out of the nursing home because I keep scaring the other elderly guests with my shouts of imagined wildlife creeping across my bed.
Let me get you up to speed. Last year, after a long 24-hour standoff with a 7-inch rodent in my bedroom, I (successfully) worked my way through some serious post-traumatic stress episodes:
”Jim, did you hear that scratching noise?! No, wait, there it is again! Wait, what?! Well, stop scratching your leg that loudly. Who does that?!”
(See “Rat In My Bedroom: A True Story in Three Acts” for a dramatic re-enactment & medical justification for bitchy wife comments; option rights still available).
A few months after that, I found a rattlesnake curled up nice-and-sweet in a small bush 10 feet from our back door. Luckily, our neighbor’s gardener was quick to respond to my shouts. He “tamed it into a box” (and when I say tame, I mean “used blunt force with a shovel”). Ah, canyon life.
Last week, as my meeting with my CTO ended, my daughter ran screaming into the house. ”I tried to pick a snake’s tail. I thought it was a cherry tomato!”
Saying nothing of the tomato/invertebrate confusion, I remembered my husband’s pleas that I not pass down my hysteria for wildlife to our children. As calmly as I could, I asked, “Was it making a noise as you grabbed it?” She shook her head. ”It’s black with green stripes. Eewww, I can’t believe I touched a snake!” she replied. I forced my voice to sound airy, as if I was discussing my plans to invade Canada, Sarah Palin-style. ”Okie dokie, then, let’s go get this snake out of our garden so we can pick our tomatoes.” I was sweating as I reached for the broom out of the closet, smiling big and weird, like a freaky clown that shows up uninvited to your birthday party.
Well, long story short. It turned out to be a very scared garter snake that, with some vigorous broom-shaking, fell from the tomato plant and slithered off to the neighbor’s yard (sorry Patti…) My daughter went back to picking vegetables while I read interesting snake facts aloud from my laptop. I told my kids to call me Indiana Momma. I’d licked my fears about nature.
Until that night.
My husband was away on a business trip. Around 2 am, I woke up out of a deep sleep. Why was I up? I looked around the room and saw the back patio lights on. The lights. I’d forgotten to turn them off. I walked through the dark house, towards the bank of light switches. Then, I saw it. The back door was not closed. All night long, the door from the patio to the house… the only barrier between me and wild… was wide open and inviting.
I nearly peed my pants.
No, I wasn’t afraid of burglars. I was afraid of snakes. They were noctural, for god’s sake. They do their traveling while humans sleep. Yes, I immediately jumped on the coffee table and surveyed the room. I went through my snake facts:
So I started stomping. I jumped off the table and stomped around the room, pausing briefly to listen for the sound of a rattle. Living Room? All clear. Den? All clear. Kitchen? All clear. Kids Playroom? Well… this is where I lost my mind.
My kids own two toys:
Taken alone, these are innocuous toys. Together, they are the devil’s creation put on earth to string out high-strung mothers at 3 am.
As I stomped in the playroom, I knocked into the loft (which holds all the kids stuffed animals) and damn it if that python snake didn’t drop down the pile AT THE EXACT TIME the beads in the rattle spilled down to another level. Couldn’t make it up, even if I wanted to. Why my kids had their baby rattle toy out-and-about, I’ll never know. But leave it at this.
At this point, I did pee my pants. For real.
Eventually, I calmed down and went to back to bed.
I didn’t have a snake in my house… Just a few bats in my belfry.
- 10 -
While watching “Moneyball,” you spend most of the movie cheering on Brad Pitt’s deep forehead wrinkles because if Brad can pull off his then clearly you’re pulling off yours.
- 9 -
When your children ask if you would take them swimming at the YMCA, your first thought is “Damn it, I’ll need to wax.” Your second thought is “Where can I buy a suit with one of those skirts attached?”
- 8 -
You spend an inordinate amount of time massaging cream on the backs of your hands because you read somewhere that you can tell a woman’s real age by the look of her hands (and not her smooth-as-ice, botoxed-forehead). Sure. You remember your grandma’s hands. Dry and bony and so NOT what’s going to happen to yours.
- 7 -
When you see a young mother struggling with her young children at the grocery store, you resist the urge to say, “You’ll look back on these years with such longing. They grow up so quickly” because you thought those women were crazy. And annoying. And clueless. Then, you say it. Because it’s SO true.
- 6 –
You’ve stopped ranting against the Kardashian sisters and Snooki because you know it’s just a matter of time before they go the way of Paris Hilton and ah, how you’ll enjoy the ensuing moments of dignified quiet. That is, until they’re replaced by the next crop of media-whoring, sorry-excuse-for-a-role-model-to-young-women ladies scrambling to grace the cover of OK! Magazine. And yes, I did just say whoring. And I meant it.
- 6 1/2 -
You use inappropriate words without remorse because you’ve seen enough bullshit to last you the next forty and some days, you just want to call a clown “a clown”and a donkey “an ass.” Even when the circus ain’t in town.
- 5 -
You panic when you enter a bookstore. So many books. So little time.
- 4 -
At the doctor’s office, you not only read the articles about 50+ year old actresses lamenting the loss of strong, sexy roles with a sense of dread and foreboding, but you find yourself slathering on more hand cream as you read.
- 3 -
You can’t stop using the expression, “That’s ’cause you know where your bread is buttered.” Not sure why. But it works. In so many contexts.
- 2 -
A day of skiing hurts at night. A bottle of wine hurts in the morning. But kisses and hugs make it all better. And 2 tablets of extra-strength Tylenol.
- 1 -
You wish everyone would stop the pity-stare when you answer, “Nothing special. Just hanging with my husband and kids. Maybe go out for dinner” to their “What big plans do you have to celebrate your 40th?” The truth is — you’re tired of planning parties for everyone and even if your husband did all the work, you know you’d nitpick about something (like how much he spent on a caterer or, if he didn’t, how the crab cakes were too bready) and you love your friends but a big party means they’ll pay through the nose for a ‘sitter and then, feel exhausted in the morning and you won’t really get any meaningful time to talk with them anyways and your family will want to fly in but you don’t have enough sofas in the house for all of them and the kids will want to stay up late but they invariably go nuclear after 9 pm and you haven’t ever bought yourself a really nice piece of jewelry and maybe that would be fun, you know, something you could give to your daughter when she’s older. Or maybe, you’d just enjoy staying in the Canyon, ordering in pizza and blowing out a mini-blaze of candles sliding off a homemade, lopsided cake? Or maybe, you don’t measure your life by dates on the calendar but rather by the long trajectory of accomplishments and struggles, memories and future dreams — and your life feels full without the party. Or maybe, you want to start a new trend of overblown parties thrown in PRIME years (43! 59!) Or maybe, you just want to spend the night lubbing up your hands, wearing a pair of those night-mitts to get the cream in good and deep, smooth and youthful.
Oh yeah. I know what I’m doing on my 40th Birthday. For sure.